Correlation between computed tomography angiography and histology of carotid artery atherosclerosis: Can semi-automated imaging software predict a plaque's composition?

John C. Benson, Valentina Nardi, Melanie C. Bois, Luca Saba, Waleed Brinjikji, Luis Savastano, Giuseppe Lanzino, Amir Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Using computed tomography angiography to differentiate between components of carotid atherosclerotic lesions remains largely elusive. This study sought to validate a semi-automated software for computed tomography angiography plaque analysis using histologic comparisons. Materials and Methods: A retrospective review was performed of consecutive patients that underwent a carotid endarterectomy, with pre-procedural computed tomography angiography imaging of the cervical arterial vasculature available for review. Images were evaluated using a commercially-available software package, which produced segmented analyses of intraplaque components (e.g. intraplaque hemorrhage, lipid-rich necrotic core, and calcifications). On imaging, each component was assessed in terms of its (1) presence or absence, and (2) both volume and proportion of the total plaque volume (if present). On histological evaluation of carotid endarterectomy specimens, each component was evaluated as an estimated proportion of total plaque volume. Results: Of 80 included patients, 30 (37.5%) were female. The average age was 69.7 years (SD = 9.1). Based on imaging, intraplaque hemorrhage was the smallest contributor to plaque composition (1.2% of volumes on average). Statistically significant linear associations were noted between the proportion of intraplaque hemorrhage, lipid-rich necrotic core, and calcifications on histology and the volume of each component on imaging (p values ranged from 0.0008 to 0.01). Area under curve were poor for intraplaque hemorrhage and lipid-rich necrotic core (0.59 and 0.61, respectively) and acceptable for calcifications (0.73). Conclusion: Semi-automated analyses of computed tomography angiography have limited diagnostic accuracy in the detection of intraplaque hemorrhage and lipid-rich necrotic core in carotid artery plaques. However, volumetric imaging measurements of different components corresponded with histologic analysis.

Keywords

  • carotid
  • computed tomography angiography
  • plaque
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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